Genre: nonfiction biography
Length: 379 pages of story, 449 with indices
Setting: 1889-1890, around the world
Interest: I am reading Mr. Curiosity Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne as his bedtime story. The last time I was at the big downtown library, I looked for a good graphic novel or two (since both kids love them) and happened to see Around the World, which describes three different journeys around the world. Perfect for Mr. Curiosity. I looked for a book for myself and happened to see this one, and I figured it would be a perfect addition to my library.
Summary: The book chronicles the trips of Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland as they travel in opposite directions around the world, trying to beat Jules Verne’s hypothetical 80 day trip taken by Phileas Fogg. Bly was a journalist from Pennsylvania in a time when there were very few female journalists. She was best known for her exposes. She convinced Joseph Pulitzer to fund a trip around the world to boost circulation of his newspaper. After hearing of Bly’s trip, the editor of the monthly magazine The Cosmopolitan convinced one of his writers, Bisland, to immediately depart in the other direction. The author describes all the steps the two had to take in their journey. He also describes their life after the trip, which in many ways was a disappointment after the excitement of the trip, especially for Bly.
Final thoughts: An interesting story that I enjoyed because of its ties to Verne’s story (Bly gets to meet Verne) and because Bly and Bisland were breaking the mold for what was expected of them. I also learned (or was reminded) of little historical tidbits, like the fact that the railroads essentially standardized time in the U.S. I did feel sorry for Nellie Bly since her trip around the world was the high point of her life, and she never really figured out what to do with herself after that time.
Title comes from: Descriptive and reflects the fact they were trying to beat the record from Around the World in 80 Days.